I found out about Queen Brunhild through an old website entitled History Behind Game of Thrones. The article was detailed but it painted Brunhild in a titillating way as a promiscuous intriguer doing all she can to maintain her grip on power. It was supposed to compare to her to the villainous Queen Cersei. I was fascinated with the story and had recently reached out to find it again, only to discover (sadly) that the site folded. Which was doubly disappointing because there was scant enough info on Brunhild as is.
Luckily, Google (in a rare moment of actually working) found this book for me that covers Brunhild and her sister-in-law Ferdegund as they played the game of thrones for the four kingdoms that would eventually make the nation of France.
Since the book takes place during the early part of the Middle Ages, there’s not a lot of documentation that survived. Shelley Puhak’s aim is to tell these two women’s remarkable stories in a way that gives them more agency than previously conferred by male historians. And she does a great job. Making very few inferences, she paints a picture of the unlikely rise of a slave girl and a foreign princess to power, a power they had to hold onto, lest they lose their freedom or their life (Brunhild wasn’t so lucky). I was able to get a good understanding of how court and church politics worked and what these women needed to do to survive.
There are times when Puhak gets in too deep with names or minor details but this is still a readable history book about a less-than-reported time that humanized women who have otherwise been Lady Macbeth-esque caricatures.